Family Values

Sun Daddy believed that the world was small

When the world knocked at his door
Sun Daddy put his head under the pillow
and shouted go away.

Every few weeks the world knocked
and Sun Daddy shouted,
and so it went on for years.

Sometimes when Sun Daddy was at work
Moon Mother invited the world in,
listened to its stories,

but made sure to shoo it out
before Sun Daddy’s return.
One day Sun Daddy caught sight of the world

as it rolled away down the hill.

Sun Daddy’s Moods

On good days Sun Daddy was the standard lamp,
he sat in the corner puffing away on his pipe.

The Star Children, their soft faces wreathed in smoke
would creep nearer and nearer,

shuffling forwards on knees and bottoms,
daring each other to touch Sun Daddy’s shoes.

But there was no telling
when Sun Daddy would change,

one wrong word could make his mood blacken,
and he would start to vibrate and hum.

like the electric carving knife.

Sun Daddy liked to throw his pain around

He made Moon Mother
and the Star children suffer with him.

Moon Mother’s suffering was too noisy,
so Sun Daddy locked her in the garage,

but when she had gone the younger
Star Children started fighting,

Sun Daddy clanged their heads
and sent them to their bedroom.

Star Girl was the only one left,
in her face Sun Daddy saw Moon Mother,

then he saw himself,
then he saw the size of his pain.

Sun Daddy invented the night

because, he said, he couldn’t trust the day,
all its brightnesses.

He invented it full of shadowy corners,
he conjured nightmares and monsters.

The Star Children sweated under their nylon sheets,
they tried to light up the night with torches,

Star Girl, her radio pressed to her ear,
could almost convince herself night was day.

But Sun Daddy was wise to their mischief,
he dragged night back upstairs,

threw it into their bedroom and locked the door.


At Christmas Sun Daddy started smashing glass

he started in his bedroom,
then swept tornado-like through the house:

windows, ornaments, glass lampshades,
the rented TV – nothing was safe.

When things quietened down,
they found him with his head on the kitchen table.

The room glittered around him.

From Bird Sisters (Nine Arches Press, 2016)